The Grammatical Rules







 1.1 Define the Phrase.

The phrase is a meaningful group of words without a subject and a predicate. It is a group of words without a verb except for the verb phrase that has a verb as its headword. The phrase is an integral part of a sentence that does not have a complete meaning on its own.

A phrase is made up of a headword and its modifiers. It takes its name from the headword, which is the type of words it contains. In essence, the headword of the noun phrase is a noun.


 1.2 Identify the different types of Phrases, i.e., Structural and Functional.

Types of Phrase

Like other units of word classes, the phrase has its functions. The functions depend on its construction, that is, the type of words it contains. The phrase is divided into various types depending on their functions and constructions. The following are the types of phrases.

Noun Phrase

This is a group of words (or phrase) with the noun as its head ( obligatory head), and one or two modifiers, examples:

  • The maid of honor
  • The tallest girl in Lagos


A noun phrase can function as the subject, object, and complement.


  • The tallest man in Lagos visited my family last week.
  • The little girl came to Nigeria last holiday.


An object of the verb

  • James adopted a dog that refused to bark.
  • Femi brought some apples.
  • Subject complement
  • Ngozi is a great English teacher.
  • Yinusa is a good boy.


Object complement

  • They made him their leader.
  • The class named her the best girl.


Complement of a preposition

  • Many left the briefcase on the table.
  • The dog is afraid of the lion.


Appositive in a sentence

  • The chairman, Femi Fatoye, visited the schools.
  • My friend, Mary Johnson, left Nigeria last night.



  • Always collocate a singular verb with a singular noun phrase:

If the headword of a noun phrase is in the singular form, the noun phrase is singular, examples:

  • A good writer does not write in unfamiliar words.
  • A hunter traps animals with bait.


Always use a plural noun phrase with a plural verb:

If the headword of a noun phrase is in its plural form, the noun phrase is plural, examples:

  • All errors in the letter are corrected.
  • Many textbooks have been supplied to the bookshop.

Verb Phrase

A verb phrase is a multi-word verb that supplies the subject’s action or state of existence in a sentence. It contains a lexical or main verb and one or more auxiliary or helping verbs, examples:

  • had washed
  • must clean


The verb phrase can function as the predicate of a clause, verb phrase heads, modifier, and complement.


  • The journalist is writing an article.
  • The door was slammed shut by the baby.

Verb Phrase heads

  • I have borrowed.
  • It will be washed.

Noun Phrase modifier

  • I saw the man sleeping on the floor.
  • He met the man walking by the roadside.


Adjective Phrase Complement

  • You should be excited to study
  • She is curious to know why you came.


Verb Phrase complements

  • Mary intends to attend the burial ceremony.
  • The students have to pass the test.


Prepositional Phrase

The prepositional phrase is made up of the preposition (obligatory head), its complement or object, and modifiers of the object, examples:

  • It is from him.
  • Send him to the teacher.


The prepositional phrase functions as adjectives, adverbs, objects, and complements.

As Adjectives

  • Please read the message from Uju.
  • The man on the radio has a boring voice.

As Adverbs

  • Before the war, Okoro played football.
  • Amina lives on that bridge.

As an object of the verb

  • A beautiful car was presented to a beautiful queen.

As a Complement of the subject

  • That well-cooked jollof rice is for us at today’s party.
  • That cultured boy is for us in tomorrow’s election.


Adjectival Phrase

An adjectival phrase is a group of words headed by an adjective, examples:

  • The highly emotive actor gave a wonderful performance.
  • Everyone was extremely delighted.


Adjectival phrase functions as an adjective. It modifies the noun or noun phrase.

Modify the noun or noun phrase

  • The very small kitten jumped at the big dog.
  • The man covered with sweat trudged his way home.


Adverbial Phrase

An Adverbial phrase is a word group that acts as an adverb in a sentence. It is headed by an adverb.


Adverbial phrase modifies a verb, an adjective, another adverb, noun phrase, or prepositional phrase.

Modify verbs

  • I exercise very regularly.

Modify adjectives

  • I found it extremely difficult to talk to her.

Modify adverbs

  • He drives really carefully.

Modify noun phrase

  • That is quite a tree.


Modify prepositional phrase

  • We climbed right over the top of the hill.


Infinitive Phrase

This is the phrase with the infinitive (the headword), its object, complement and modifiers, examples:

  • To eat apples is a delight.
  • It is bad to curse your helper.


Infinitive phrase functions as subject, object, complement, and modifier.

As Subject

  • To have a job is my desire.

As object

  • It is not easy to own a house.

As complement

  • His ambition is to attain a great height.

As modifier

  • This is the woman to honor.


Participle Phrase

This is a phrase that contains the past or present participle, its modifiers, complement, and object. It has the participle as its headword, examples:

  • Having apologized, they renewed their friendship.
  • Shocked by his attitude, the principal sent him away.


There are two forms of the participle. They are the present participle and the past participle. The present participle should not be confused with the gerund. The gerund functions as a noun while the present participle functions as a verb. Also, the past participle takes the en, ed, d, (etc.) suffix.



Participle phrase functions as modifiers.

  • Having received her salary, the teacher headed to the shopping mall.
  • Shaken by his words, Mary began to cry.

Gerund phrase

This is a phrase with the gerund as the headword. It comprises a gerund, its object, and its modifier.


A gerund phrase functions as a subject, object, or complement.

As subject

  • Eating well helps one to grow up.

As complement

  • Your job is serving humanity.


As an object of a preposition

  • He is accused of lying.



  • Discuss the types of phrases.
  • Define phrase.
  • List the types of phrases.
  •      Discuss the functions.
  •     Give adequate examples of each type.



 1.3 Define the Clause.

A clause is a group of words that have a subject and predicate. It is not all clauses that make a complete meaning.

A clause is like a sentence because a sentence also has a subject and a predicate. But a sentence differs from a clause because it makes a complete meaning and can contain more than one clause.

Also, a clause differs from a phrase because a phrase does not have a subject and predicate.


1.4 Identify the different types of Clauses, i.e., structural, and functional.

Types of Clauses

There are two types of clauses:

  • The Main clause (principal or independent clause).
  • The Subordinate clause (dependent clause).

The main clause (independent clause)

This is a clause that can function as a sentence on its own. It contains a subject, a predicate and expresses a complete thought, examples:

  • The window opened.
  • This man walked home.

The main clause can be joined by coordinating conjunction to form complex or compound sentences. Some examples of coordinating conjunctions are, and, or, but, yet, for, not, so, examples:

  • The door opened and the man walked in.
  • Jim studied hard so he passed his examination.


The dependent clause (subordinate clause)

The dependent clause is part of a sentence, but it does not make a complete statement or thought on its own. It depends on the main clause to make a complete thought, examples:

  • I wondered whether the homework was necessary.
  • They will visit you before they go to the airport.

The dependent clause (subordinate clause) is often joined to the main clause or another subordinate clause by a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun. Some examples of subordinating conjunctions are, after, before, since, once, whenever, whether, although, unless, while, whereas, because, wherever, if, so that, until.

Also, some examples of relative pronoun are, that, who, whole, whose, which, whoever, whichever, whom, whomever, example:

  • I bought hats which have wide brims.


Types of subordinate clause

The following are some types of the subordinate clause – the noun clause (nominal), adverbial clause, and the adjectival clause.


Noun clause

This is a group of words containing a subject and a finite verb of its own. When it is removed from the sentence, the sentence can’t make meaning. It can be introduced by that, if, whether, who, whatever, who, whether, why, when, whatever, etc., examples:

  • The winner is that athlete standing near Lucy.
  • I wondered whether the homework was necessary.



A noun clause functions as a noun. These functions are as follow:

The subject of a sentence

  • What John did is strange.


Object of verb

  • I know who used the ruler.


Subject complement

  • The winner is that boy standing near the bus.


Apposition to the subject

  • The teacher, that beautiful woman in red clothes, is my mother.



Adjectival clause

The adjectival clause modifies the noun in the main clause. It describes a noun, pronoun, or noun equivalent. In essence, it provides extra information about the noun or pronoun.

When this clause is removed from a sentence, the sentence can still have complete meaning. It is a relative clause and can be introduced by the following relative pronouns, who, whom, whose, that, which, examples:

  • I went to the show that was very popular.
  • The book which I gave him is good.


Some Adjectival clauses (subordinate) are introduced by relative adverbs and can be called relative clauses. Some of these relative adverbs are, why, when, how, where, examples:

  • She was taken to the town where she was born.
  • The reason why you are here is unknown.


Adverbial clause

Adverbial clause functions as an adverb. It tells the when, why, how, and where. When it is removed from a sentence, the sentence can still have a complete thought, examples:

  • They will visit you before they go to the market.
  • I shall attend the party because it is fun.



  • Discuss the two major types of clauses.
  • Define clause.
  • Define the types of clauses.
  • Discuss their functions.
  • Provide adequate illustrations.


1.5 Define the Sentence.

The sentence is the largest independent unit of expression. It begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark. It has a subject and a predicate and makes complete sense.

A sentence is said to make complete sense when it successfully conveys information about a person or thing.


1.6 Identify different types of Sentences, i.e., Structural and Functional.

Classification of the sentence

A sentence can be classified in two ways. The first is according to the structure while the second is according to function.


Structural classification of the sentence

There are four basic structures of the sentence. They are,

  • Simple sentence
  • Compound sentence
  • Complex sentence
  • Compound-Complex sentence or multiple sentence


Simple Sentence

A simple sentence contains a single independent clause. It expresses just one main idea. It contains a subject and a predicate, examples:

  • I do not like dogs.
  • Ayo is my best friend.
  • She is my friend.


Compound Sentence

A compound sentence contains two independent clauses that are joined by a coordinating conjunction (e.g., but, or, so, yet, etc.), examples:

  • I do not like dogs and my sister does not like cats.
  • You can write on paper, or you can use your computer.
  • The lecture is very interesting, yet the students complained about the time.


Complex Sentence

This contains an independent clause with one or more dependent clauses, that is, one main idea and two or more supporting ideas joined with subordinating conjunctions (e.g., that, because, while, although, if, etc.), examples:

  • She did her homework while her father cooked dinner.
  • You can write on paper, although a computer is better if you want to correct mistakes.
  • I do not like dogs that bark at me when I pass them.


Compound-Complex or Multiple sentence

This sentence contains two or more independent clauses and one dependent clause, examples:

  • I do not like dogs and my sister does not like cats because they make her sneeze.
  • You can write on paper but using a computer is better as you can easily correct your mistakes.


Functional classification of the sentence

The sentence is also classified according to its function. There are four basic types of the sentence which corresponds with the basic functions. They are discussed below.


Declarative sentence

The declarative sentence makes statements of facts and asserts universal truth, examples:

  • Applicants will be answered in due time.
  • Abuja is the center of Nigeria.
  • The man is the head of the family.


Imperative sentence

The imperative issues command, gives directives and makes mild requests, examples:

  • Shut the door.
  • Move into the school.
  • Leave the house.


Interrogative sentence

The interrogative asks questions. It ends with the question mark, examples:

  • Who wrote my name?
  • Can I have your book?
  • Do you like your job?


Exclamatory sentence

The exclamatory sentence shows strong feelings or emotions, surprise, and excitement. It ends with the exclamation mark, examples:

  • Oh my God!
  • I cannot believe this!
  • What a nice man!


1.7 Construct different types of Sentences.


  1. Discuss the classification of the sentence.
  2. Define the term sentence.
  3. Discuss the two major classifications.
  4. Construct different types of Sentences.






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